Under-23s Star Welch On Key Improvement And Unsworth Influence

Teenage defender Reece Welch believes his improved physicality has laid the foundation for his fine form for Club and country, as he revealed the integral role Everton Under-23s boss David Unsworth has played in his development this season.

Everton Under-23s are in Premier League action against Leicester City on Friday (7pm GMT kick-off) and you can watch the game LIVE on our official YouTube channel! Coverage begins at 6.45pm.

Welch, 18, has grown in stature throughout his maiden campaign as a fully-fledged Under-23s player, with the centre-back’s assured and authoritative performances earning him a maiden cap for England Under-20s in November.

The Yorkshire-born youngster says he has savoured the opportunity to regularly test himself against more experienced opponents for Everton this term.

Welch explained a determined focus to develop his strength and athleticism has taken his all-round game to fresh heights.

“I feel like I’ve stepped up to the challenge of moving up to the Under-23s,” he told evertonfc.com.

“Last season, I was only getting a taste of it, so I didn’t know how challenging it could be to play at this level week after week.

“Now, I’m starting regularly in games, and I feel like I’ve been able to elevate my performances and get the level I need to be at.

“I’ve been going to the gym and improving physically, so I can keep up with the pace and strength you need.

“I enjoy it [the gym work]. The sports scientists and I go through my scores in certain exercises to see how much progress I’ve made. I’ve made quite a big step up over the past year.”

Reece Welch
I’ve been going to the gym and improving physically. I made quite a big step up over the past year.

Welch is also benefiting from the technical and tactical guidance provided by Under-23s boss Unsworth.

The Everton Giant played 350 First-Team matches for the Blues and Welch outlined the key areas he has progressed under Unsworth's tutelage.

“Unsy was a top centre-back, so he has really helped me come on defensively,” he says.

“I’ve improved a lot with my one-v-one defending and just being more aggressive in general.

“We’ve also started look at my work in possession. I feel like that has been one of my main strengths and I actually used to be a striker, so I’m comfortable on the ball.

“But I just want to keep getting better and better, because I know I need to keep improving.”

Welch, who joined Everton aged seven, has regularly been capped for England at age-group level.

His England Under-20s debut in November came just two months after he celebrated his 18th birthday – and he outlined how that step up provided a valuable learning curve.

“I’m still eligible for the Under-19s, so playing a year above away was a really good experience,” he says.

“The standard was so high, especially the speed at which the players move the ball and their decision-making. You need to be able to make those split-second decisions and use the ball in the right way.”

He added: “This season, I want to keep playing regularly for Everton Under-23s and try to push to train with the First Team more often.

“Hopefully, I can go away with England for the Under-19 Euros in the summer and try to be successful there.”

Watch Everton Under-23s in Premier League 2 action against Leicester City on Friday night LIVE on our official YouTube channel! Kick-off is at 7pm GMT and our coverage begins at 6.45pm.

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MATCH CENTRE 03:30 Tue 25 Jan 2022


David Unsworth's side record impressive 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League 2.